Monday, September 18, 2023

How do you know when your choir is performance ready?

Most choirs get to the point where they want to share the songs they’ve learnt with an audience.

But how do you know that the songs are in a good enough state to share?

There are several stages to “is my choir performance ready?”. Here are a three  possible ones.

does my choir want to perform?

Not all choirs perform in public (see Choirs that don’t perform). Your choir might have been set up (initially at least) as a non-performing choir. But one day the singers might feel they want to share the songs they’ve learnt. See Should your choir perform live? – arguments for and against.

You need to make sure that all the singers are on board if your choir has never performed before. Perhaps the majority of singers don’t want to perform in public. Maybe singers are inexperienced and a bit scared. See The ‘good enough’ singer or how to enjoy performing with your choir.

Make sure that most of the choir does want to perform. Make it clear that it’s optional and singers can still be in the choir even if they don’t perform. If there is a lot of anxiety around, maybe suggest a non-public first performance to friends and family. Or share a couple of songs as part of another choir’s concert. Baby steps! See 7 ways to share your choir’s singing without making a big performance of it.

Don’t make a big deal of it when publicising your first gig. Don’t raise expectations otherwise both singers and audience might be disappointed. You don’t want your singers to be put off performing, you want them to come back afterwards buzzing and wanting more.

is the time right to share our songs with an audience?

Even if all the singers in a choir want to perform publicly, the choir as a whole might not be ready.

Ultimately this is down to your choir leader: are your singers up to scratch (i.e. it won’t all fall apart because of nerves) and are the songs ready (have you rehearsed enough and do the singers know the songs well enough?). The choir leader will make the final decision.

This decision will depend not only on the singers and whether the songs are up to scratch, but also the performance outlet. A friends and family sharing can include simple rounds, easy harmony songs, lots of mistakes, wobbly bits, etc. Your audience will be rooting for you and won’t expect things to be 100% polished at this stage.

However, if you’re part of a big, public event in a proper venue, and charging audience members, expectations will be different and the songs and performance will need to be of a higher standard.

Whatever your choir leader decides, individual singers might not believe that the time is right for them. Which is fine. Only perform when you feel comfortable.

how do we know when our songs are ready for our concert?

At some stage you will have performed in public a few times as a choir and possibly set up a concert schedule. You will be familiar with preparing songs for a concert and the weeks of rehearsal that are involved.

You work hard for many weeks or months learning new songs and polishing old ones. But how do you know when the material is ready to be shared with the public?

If you have a fixed date for your concert, you don’t have a lot of wriggle room: the date will arrive sooner than you think! However, if you still feel you won’t be performance ready in time, you can always add some more rehearsals, or drop songs from the concert.

There is always a fine balance between waiting until everything is 100% perfect (that day will never arrive!), and simply busking it when the concert date arrives.

You can end up being over-rehearsed (and the songs will feel stale and lack life) or under-prepared (songs won’t sound great and lots of mistakes will be made). See Over-rehearsed or under-prepared: which is better?

Unfortunately, there is no neat way to know when your songs are ready for performance. This will come with experience. Just try to find the sweet spot between over-rehearsed and under-prepared!

Chris Rowbury


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